I am sorry I haven't been around much. My life has had such a major change, I don't know exactly what my life is anymore.
You must have a little history for this story to make any sense. You might want to get a cuppa and have a seat, OR come back later when I'm making a blouse or a quilt. Your choice.
My Mother just turned 89 in December. She has been living alone in a small town, in a small, run- down "trailer park", next to a 5-acre lake that she loves very much. The place was very nice many years ago when she and my Dad bought over an acre there to retire on. They had lived in Fort Worth prior to that. They bought a very nice double-wide mobile home and Mother insisted that it be practically IN the lake. She grew up near the ocean in Boston, MA, and she has always loved to be near the water. The land was sold by lots, and you could buy as many as you wanted. I guess many lots were purchased in the beginning and owners had big hopes for the development, but the developers went bankrupt, and they left, and people didn't make payments and over the years most places there went "to the dogs" and the drug addicts and the arsonists and so on.
You get the picture.
Daddy died in 1997 and Mother has been living there alone ever since. I did NOT want her to live there alone. None of her kids wanted her to live there. We thought she should move near us. It is a 2-hour drive away from our home. We worked more than full time, and we couldn't go often to see her. At first, she came often down to our home and visited us. We went to her on birthdays and holidays. Her place started falling into disrepair. Jerry and I went out whenever we could with tractors and trailers and shovels and paint and whatever. We couldn't do that as much as it was needed though.
THEN, Mother's mind started getting "lost". I knew EXACTLY what was happening because I had taken care of Jerry's Mom through dementia. We would go to her house and see that it desperately needed paint. She would say, "Your Daddy JUST painted this house and you aren't touching it!" Dad had been dead over 10 years.
We would find cracks in walls, water where it shouldn't be, broken steps, etc. She would say they were "just fixed", and she didn't want us there causing trouble. Jerry and I feared for her safety.
I have 2 sisters and a brother. I called them. One sister said, "Fine, YOU need to take care of her." The other sister said, "Mind your own business and leave her alone." My brother said, "If she wants you to help her, she will call you."
Well, OF COURSE, she never called me. She didn't want us there because she knew we were the "fix-it" part of the family. She couldn't SEE the problems, and there were many.
I was very frustrated and felt like I deserved "The Most Horrible Daughter" award. I wanted so much to help her.
Three years ago, on Christmas Day, after not seeing her for a long time, I decided Jerry and I would go out to see her and take Christmas dinner to her. I thought I could just overlook the outside of the trailer being covered with black mildew and the broken this and broken that. After all, it was Christmas. I purchased a stuffed turkey breast from Sam's Club. I thought it would be easy to cook in her oven and serve. I took a box of instant potatoes. I took packets of gravy, frozen vegetables and two pies.
We drove over the river and through the woods and past the dilapidated, falling down or burned down properties near her and arrived at her home. Her car was parked under the carport at the end of her mobile home with the front fender inside the large indention she punched -- ON PURPOSE -- with the car --into the skirting -- so her car would fit better.
I grabbed an ice chest and my purse. Jerry grabbed another ice chest and some bags. We walked up to the front door and knocked. THE SECOND SHE OPENED THE DOOR the most awful foul smell wafted out and into my nose! Not only that, I was totally shocked at how thin she was and how straggly her hair and clothing were.
AGAIN! "The Most Horrible Daughter" award.
I immediately went into my HYPER-CHOLERIC personality. I hugged Mom and announced that I must find what smell was coming out her front door. I put the ice chests and bags in the kitchen and followed my nose as it sniffed its way into the guest bathroom -- which was then the two cats' bathroom -- and I found the offensive odor.
Mother kept two cat boxes inside the bathtub. Both of them had long been full and overflowing. The bathtub was plugged, and the two cats had been just going in the bottom of the tub. It was horrible. Mother was following me around like a scared child saying, "What is wrong, Joy?" "What are you doing, Joy?" "Why are you doing that, Joy?" "I don't want you in here, Joy." I told her to please stay out of my way and let me clean up the mess. She was clueless.
Jerry took the litter boxes out, dumped them and washed them. I took all the towels and rugs and washed them. I put the two cats in the covered porch and closed the door.
All the stink was gone, and I began cooking our Christmas dinner. It was probably 11:00 by then. I told Mom I needed to get lunch done. She said she could only eat at 2:00. Then, she saw the food that I brought was in boxes. The turkey breast and the potatoes. She came up to me and said, "I don't eat things that come in boxes." I was completely aware that all of what she was doing was signs of dementia. Dementia that was much worse than last I had seen her.
I took the turkey breast out of the oven and I sliced it on a tray. I put everything else in serving bowls and placed it all on the table I had set. Jerry and I sat down and asked Mom to sit down. She REFUSED to sit down. She said she could NOT eat. It wasn't 2:00 and she couldn't eat our food because it came in boxes.
By then, I had lost all my patience, and was not being very nice. I told her she needed to sit down and eat with us. I reminded her I had come all that way just to fix her Christmas dinner. She refused to eat. Jerry and I just ate without her. In a few minutes, Mom walked over to her freezer. She pulled out several Stouffer's dinners that she always had an abundance of. She came over to the table where we were eating and she shoved the boxes in front of us. She said, "LOOK! This is ALL I eat!" I looked at her and said, "Mother, all of that is IN BOXES!" She just turned and walked back to the freezer.
Jerry and I left EXASPERATED. We both KNEW the time had come. Not what we needed. We didn't have the time. We knew we would be doing it alone. But we also knew that Mom could no longer live alone. I told Jerry I had to get her some help or move her in with us or SOMETHING. Mother, of course, wanted nothing to do with any of that. If she had good sense, she wouldn't have dementia, after all.
Right after we left, Mother must have called my youngest sister -- her favorite. I got a call the next day from my sister telling me off loud and clear! She called me all the usual hateful names she calls me, and she said, "You RUINED Mom's Christmas!" She said, "Jerry should be hung for telling her she needs to get rid of her cats!" She told me to stay away from her because Mom never wanted to see me again, and my presence would upset her so much it would kill her.
ANNNNNNNNND to make a long, horrible, ugly story short, it has been that way for the last three years. I would call my Mom. She would say, "I am FINE, JOY! You don't need to come. I don't want you to come. I have plenty of help. I am very happy here, and I am never leaving."
At one point I called a friend of hers and asked if she knew any place I could call to find someone to care for Mom. A "visiting angel" type of thing. She agreed with me that Mom certainly needed help. She referred me to a nice lady from her church. I called her. She had been taking care of an elderly person for a long time, and that person had just died. She was ready to take on a new person.
I WAS THRILLED! I had an appointment set up to meet her and take her to Mom's house. But the day before, my sister found out about it. She called Mom and told her not to let that lady come. Told Mom she didn't need any help -- or whatever she said. I wasn't there. I just know the lady told me she wasn't able to deal with my sibling and she declined the job.
At that point, I threw up my hands, and I just gave up. I told God over and over and over that if HE wanted me to take care of my Mother, HE was going to have to arrange it because my hands were tied. I even quit calling her. I couldn't stand the heartache, and she only wanted to talk to her two youngest kids anyway. They called her occasionally, and I think they may have visited her once or twice a year.
My sister said yesterday that she "just talked to Mom last week, and Mom was fine". Wonder how she did that when I had her phone disconnected THREE weeks ago!
About a year ago, my daughter got frustrated with the situation; and she decided she was going to go out there and check on Mom. Unfortunately, my sister got to Mom before she got there. Told Mom that I was sending Tammy to take her away from her home and put her in a Nursing Home. Poor Mom. She totally trusted this child of hers. I couldn't fight it, and Tammy soon found out she couldn't fight it either. She tried to orchestrate regular visits, but the other two weren't interested. She gave up too.
Okaaaaaaaaaaaaay. You've got the history.
You who follow me know that my life came to a sudden halt at the beginning of this new year. It was January 2nd. A Monday. 3:00 PM. Phylly had just left after spending the night before with me. Jerry was at our other house 150 miles away. I was sitting in this very dark blue recliner on this very laptop computer when my phone rang.
I looked at it to see who was calling it said, "Mom".
I thought that had to be a mistake. Probably a misdial on her part. I, of course, answered it right away to be sure.
Joy! This is an EMERGENCY! Can I talk to you?
Of course, Mother, what is it? (The last time she had called with an "emergency", the mouse to her computer wasn't working.)
I need your help! I have been falling all day long and yesterday. I have fallen FOUR times today! I cannot live by myself anymore. I keep running into things and falling down. Is there any way you can help me, Joy?
YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Of course, I will help you! I've been TRYING to help you for TEN years!
(Tried for years to get Will done, Estate planning, etc. She totally refused to even discuss it.)
Will you PLEASE come get me RIGHT NOW?
Yes, I will. Just sit down in your chair, and let me call Jerry. I will call you RIGHT back.
I called Jerry. He was on the lake fishing with Terry's husband, Doug. He told me he would come that night or the next morning or whatever I needed. I was still talking to him, when another call came through. I told Jerry I would call him back because I assumed it was Mom again.
It wasn't Mom. It was Sharon. Sharon is a lovely Christian woman who was hired by my Mother many years ago to clean her home twice a month. I had never met her. I had seen her picture on my Mom's refrigerator. I actually had asked Mom for Sharon's phone number because I wanted to talk to her about Mom's dementia. Mom refused to give it to me. I'm SURE Sharon had heard the stories of what a monster Mom's oldest daughter was and that Mom was terrified of me, and I was going to haul her off to a nursing home, etc., etc.
Sharon told me that she and her husband wanted to BRING MOM TO MY HOUSE. I couldn't believe it. That is an hour and a half drive from my Edmond home. I told her that would be wonderful. I could not imagine WHY they would do that, but then I thought of what I just told you. They love my Mom very much, and they wanted to be sure she was safe. They met me and saw my home, and they immediately knew they had done the right thing. Sharon and her husband had been taking care of Mom for six months in their free time. That wasn't a lot since they both have other jobs. I guess they were buying groceries for her and doing odd jobs around the house. WHY the house was in such a state that Christmas Day, I will never know.
So THAT is what happened. Mom came to me that night. She has been with me ever since.
Her legs were swollen so horribly from here knees to her toes, that she could not get into any of her shoes. She had on a torn up pair of slippers that were CAUSING her to fall. They were the kind that just cover your toes and the bottoms are just thin and flat. She kept stepping on the back of one with her other foot. I immediately removed the dangerous slippers. I got her support hose the next day and have put them on her feet every day since. I took her to the SAS shoe store for shoes. Only one pair in the whole store fit her. They were double wides.
I took her to a doctor the day after she arrived. She hadn't been to a doctor for probably 10 years except for her eyes. She had let her supplemental insurance expire because she thought she didn't need a doctor ever again. There had been no diagnosis of dementia or anything else because my siblings never took her to the doctor although I had told them over and over it needed to be addressed. I had to be sure she was okay physically before moving her to our other home.
The doctor -- OF COURSE -- diagnosed her with dementia. She also had A-Fib which has something to do with an irregular heartbeat. He hooked her up to a bunch of wires. The test showed A-Fib, but he didn't feel it was bad enough to do anything about considering her age. He was WRONG about that, but the test just didn't show it at that particular day and time. He said she could come home with us. He said he could order Home Health, but they would probably not take her. She was on no medications at all. She had several bruises and scraped skin patches from her falls, but those have healed well with Neosporin, bandages and time.
I have been busy every single day doing something for or about my Mom. There has been an AMAZING transformation and so many miracles. This is so long, I feel like you all left me a long way back. I must quit.
Just know, my Mom tells me all the time how much she loves me and that she cannot believe that I love her. She can't believe that I love her SO MUCH, I would move her into my home. After all my sister's lies, no wonder she can't believe it! She told me she wants me to be with her when she dies. She begs me not to leave her alone or send her away. It is NOT easy! The dementia makes here very different at times, and it isn't a "good" difference. She requires 24/7 care, and my siblings are not at all willing to help with that. I told Jerry that I can't imagine what would have happened if I had already died. I try not to think about it, but sometimes, I can't help it. It is NOT a nice picture.
My daughter, Tammy, as I have always told everyone, is Mother Theresa the Second when something like this happens. She spent all night last night at the hospital with Mom, and she is there now -- all night. Jerry and I do days and evenings. Yes, she is in the hospital. Two strokes. I'll tell you more later about that. Lots going on, and I need sleep. It is 11 PM and they are doing a procedure tomorrow to drain fluid off Mom's lungs.
Hope to return soon. Maybe from the hospital.